“I was definitely aware that I needed to hide my sexuality. It was like getting used to putting on different masks at different times. I wasn’t ‘out’ in the Social Work Department of the University of Queensland, but I dare say the majority of the people knew that I was a lesbian. Also, I had no qualms about walking around the corridors of the Social Work Department in my flannelette shirts and my blue jeans and my homemade leather boots, which, looking back, seemed to me a bit of a giveaway. But I think that’s how we did it in those days. You just put on different masks at different times and learned ways of protecting yourself. It’s only later in life, while doing work on gay and lesbian history, that I’ve come to fully go, ‘Wow, so many people have put their lives out there on the line for their sexuality’. It’s something that I’ve benefited from and become enormously and deeply grateful for those people who were out and proud in the early years of the ’70s.
I think I’ve been fortunate, really, that I haven’t directly experienced, as so many have, the homophobia that’s kind of been ‘in-your-face’ homophobia. I’ve steered that course, doing the different masks at different times, and I think there’s a price you pay for that that I think we don’t actually realise, the price of secrecy. Certainly there’s a big price from one’s youth when I had felt I had to keep completely secret about my sexual identity throughout my teen years and into my mid-twenties. I think there’s a price that we pay and it’s hard to measure. It’s hard to measure.”
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